With income tax time come thoughts of how to better the house and our lives at home. Of course it’s also time to catch up on some excesses bought from the previous year and a time to get caught up. It’s also a time to maybe and I stress maybe a time to consider buying a car.

I’ve had my 2007 Malibu for over 6.5 years and it’s been in a few accidents and I foresee some fairly big repairs coming, so getting a pre-owned car without a payment an idea I’m toying with. Not to mention the Malibu has close to 135,000 miles. I don’t want a payment because I can’t really afford one and I don’t really want one.

My idea is to trade the Malibu in and possible buy a car after trade in the $3000 dollar range, so I’m thinking about a car in the $5,000 range before trade. Let’s face it, my Malibu isn’t prime for re-sale.

I want a four cylinder-automatic with air. A dealer friend is going to let me drive a 2010 red Ford Focus with slightly over 100,000 miles. He has other newer model cars go to as well for under $5,000. We've talked about a Ford Fusion as well.

What cars have you had luck with? What are your thoughts for smaller cars when it comes to makes and models? I’m primarily looking at US or Japanese cars and I’ll go back to Hyundai if the deal is right as well.

I don’t want anything that will be foreign in the sense that it will be expensive to repair. IE, VW, Volvo. Lynn thinks a hybrid where I drive 70 miles a day. Anyone drive a hybrid and have any report to give?

Please, no “bashing” dealers.